There have been many areas of struggle for the Yankees.
The three main areas of concern have been the defensive play, starting pitching, and the offensive struggles.
Many talks about the poor defensive play, which is not wrong. But when the Yankees brought back DJ LeMahieu that should not be much of a surprise, since the 2020 defensive alignment was not good and they returned the same cast. Aaron Hicks making two uncharacteristic errors in the center field on Sunday does not help the cause as well. In this age of analytics, the defensive side of the ball has been less of a priority as long as those players produce at the plate.
The starting pitching outside of Gerrit Cole has been brought up, and that has been fair to some degree. Corey Kluber has not been good. Jameson Taillon was just coming off a poor outing against the Toronto Blue Jays and the fifth starter Domingo German got sent down to the alternate site and has not carried over his spring training performance to the regular season. This is more of a concern than the defense to me but not at the top of the list as to why the Yankees have struggled so far.
I am not as concerned about the starting pitching as many have been. Jameson Taillon, who I have been more optimistic about than Corey Kluber has been impressive to me in two out of his three starts to this point. That is without even considering that Taillon has not pitched since 2019.
Jordan Montgomery has been good in two of his three starts as well, and the one game he pitched in Tampa Bay when he was not sharp he battled to get through five innings and gave the Yankees a chance to win.
Kluber is historically a slow starter and has basically missed as much time as Taillon has. So that slow start could be longer than usual as Kluber gets acclimated to pitching again. That is part of the reason I was higher on Taillon than Kluber.
If eventually those two are just pitching average in addition to Cole and Montgomery then the Yankees will be in a decent spot with hopes of Luis Severino eventually returning after Tommy John surgery.
The main reason for the struggles to start the season has been the lack of offensive production.
The Yankees’ team OPS is .640 currently, which is last in the league.
Given their track record over the last four years I do not believe that this will continue all season. I do get the concern of Yankees fans though.
This is not the 2009 core who had a track record of winning, these players have not had near the success that team had.
Yankees thru 15 Games This Season:
.210 BA – lowest thru 15 games since 1968
.296 OBP – lowest thru 15 games since 1972
.346 SLG – lowest thru 15 games since 1989
.642 OPS – lowest thru 15 games since 1973
— Katie Sharp (@ktsharp) April 18, 2021
There is a fair concern as to whether this team is capable of coming through in October. However, the track record shows that the offensive production will not stay this way throughout the whole season. Every year since 2017 the Yankees have been top five in OPS. Yes, even last year when the team was ravaged by injuries and struggled for weeks at a time.
One main theme I see brought up is that over the last 100 games the Yankees have played going back to September 2019 they are right around .500. I do not think this is useless information but the context is important. Late in 2019 the Yankees were resting guys for the postseason as they had the AL East wrapped up. They did not place a lot of emphasis on home-field advantage. In the 2020 season, the injuries the Yankees sustained can not be dismissed. That played a huge part in their performance. The Yankees started out that season hot, then the injuries came in. When everyone returned the Yankees won 10 games in a row.
Do I think these offensive woes will correct themselves with a snap of a finger? No.
The quality of at-bats has not been good for a number of players and with many of them, it will likely take some time to fix these issues. This applies to players like Clint Frazier, Gleyber Torres, and Aaron Hicks who is batting under .100 from the left side. Over a 162 game season, there is time for these issues to work themselves out though.
Given that this is the main reason the Yankees have been losing and there is a track record for this team hitting over the last couple of years, there is reason to believe the Yankees will be one of the main contenders in the American League come to the end of the regular season.
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